Humans use checksums for many different applications in informational processes.

Genetic code is used as a "program" to synthesize proteins, so it could (I'm a layman when it comes to biology!) make sense that its integrity is protected in some way. And since there are just so many cells in a human body a few "retries" could be attempted when encountering bad strands in one source during DNA replication or protein biosynthesis.

Because minute mutations can have a big effect, I was wondering if there is any mechanism that amounts to check sums in genetic code? And if (no) such thing has been discovered as of yet, is there any theory as to why (not)?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I would suggest reading more about error correction in DNA replication, homology-directed repair (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homology_directed_repair), polymerase proof-reading (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…), translational proofreading (pnas.org/content/113/48/13744). I doubt that there is any mechanism that amounts to checksums. I think that there are many cases in which an error-checking/correction procedure has something kind of like checksums. $\endgroup$ Nov 20, 2020 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ You should also consider the balance between costs and benefits from such a system. Would evolution be possible with such a system? Biological check sums could only be maintained if preventing all change is beneficial over evolutionary timescales ... $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Nov 21, 2020 at 0:24
  • $\begingroup$ @tyersome yeah, actually it should be. Because if the same "check" fails on the same segment of RNA/DNA the "error correction" could give up. $\endgroup$ Nov 21, 2020 at 0:48
  • $\begingroup$ @MaximilianPress thanks for those links. It'll take some time for me to read through all of that. Feel free to write up an answer around those. Again, as a layman I know too little so perhaps my analogy was "off" and so even if these mechanisms may strictly not amount to being check sums, these links appear to be in line with my question (from my perspective). $\endgroup$ Nov 21, 2020 at 0:51


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